News & Announcements


    For Immediate Release
    Legislators Show Strong Support for
    Children's Behavioral Health Services in One-House Budget Proposals
    Families Together in New York State and NYS Coalition for Children's Behavioral
    Health Applaud Effort

    Albany, NY - Families Together in New York State (FTNYS) and the NYS Coalition for Children's Behavioral Health (CHBNY) were joined by legislators at the State Capitol Thursday, in a show of strong support for children's mental health services.
    After facing a proposed 2-year delay in addressing the severe shortage of children's behavioral health services, both houses of the State Legislature have restored funding to move service expansion forward. In addition, both houses have added capital funding to build, renovate and expand existing children's mental health clinics and facilities. Finally, both houses have initiated new efforts in schools that center around mental
    health services.

    Paige Pierce, CEO of Families Together in New York State and Andrea Smyth, Executive Director of the NYS Coalition for Children's Behavioral Health, were joined by state legislators to review the funding proposals included in both the Senate and the Assembly one-house bills. The Mental Health Budget Conference Committee was scheduled to meet shortly after the press event. The State Budget is required by the State
    Constitution to be enacted by April 1.

    In January, Gail Nayowith, a widely respected policy expert, abruptly resigned as co-chair of the state subcommittee that designed the children's Medicaid redesign plan when the Governor announced that his budget plan would back off the promise made to families and caregivers to address the mental health shortages. That is when Pierce and Smyth, representing the families and providers of services, teamed up to vigorously fight the state's trend of delaying major investments in innovative
    children's mental health services. They are pleased that the Legislature has responded and acknowledged that the state has also reached out to indicate a willingness to negotiate a positive outcome.

    Paige Pierce, Chief Executive Officer of Families Together in New York State, sees the Legislature's support for services that strengthen families and help young people reach their potential as a progressive, long-term investment. "In a growing body
    of research, evidence is clear that exposure to childhood traumas, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), can lead to poor health, mental health and socio-economic outcomes later in life", said Pierce. "I applaud the leadership of Assemblywoman Gunther and Senator Ortt. They understand that positive adolescent development is the means to preventing serious problems in adulthood for all of New York's children."

    Andrea Smyth, Executive Director of the NYS Coalition for Children's Behavioral Health said, "The State has been on record since 2011, accurately saying that the children's mental health system has been underfunded and has inadequate capacity to address the needs of New York's children. Both the Assembly and the Senate have resolved to answer this profound problem with action - bringing new services up, ending rationing of "capped" service slots and providing capital funding to
    build and renovate buildings to serve more children and end the waiting game that families face when they go to the emergency department. We thank them for their leadership." "Now, more than ever, our state should be leading the way in providing New York's children with access to the critical mental health resources and support services they need to reach their full potential," said Senator Sue Serino. "Our local community is fortunate to be home to facilities like Astor Services that truly go above and beyond to provide critical supports to children facing unique challenges, and their families, and I am proud to help lead the fight to secure the funding necessary to help ensure that they can continue to provide these critical services."

    "My colleagues in the Assembly have strongly supported me as I have put children's mental health services on the priority list this year. We have all heard from distraught families who are unable to access services or who have been waiting in emergency
    rooms for days or who are being offered services far from their child's home or school," said Assemblymember Aileen Gunther, Chairwomen of the Assembly Mental Health Committee. "We have heard from school districts and universities that are
    unable to meet the behavioral health needs of all the young people and who need access to additional community-based programs. We listened and with support of Speaker Heastie, we have acted."

    "I'm proud that this year one-house budget resolutions included important provisions to help children's behavioral clinics and school-based mental health support. These programs provide crucial support to ensure that young New Yorkers have access to quality behavioral and mental health care. I look forward to continuing to advocate for this funding in the coming weeks throughout budget negotiations," said Senator Jeff Klein.
    "I am proud to take credit for Assembly restorations and new funding for mental health services in our community schools," said Assemblymember Luis Sepulveda. "The Senate also included in their budget resolution Senator Hamilton and my legislation to create a pilot program on gun violence prevention focused on mental health services in our schools. When it comes to children, support for programs that help them,
    protect them, teach them and shelter them are always at the top of my legislative priorities list. They ARE our future." "Our children deserve access to the highest quality care, support and resources to appropriately deal with their unique needs. I am proud that the Assembly restored $10 million in capital funds for children's community behavioral health development.
    Although the Assembly's proposal shows promise there is still work to be done before we complete the budget. We must ensure that facilities statewide, including residential
    treatment centers, have the support needed to continue the critical care they provide for families and our youth." stated Assemblymember Kevin Cahill.

    Families Together in New York State is a family-run organization that represents families of children with social, emotional, behavioral and cross-systems challenges. Our goal is to ensure that ALL children and youth have the support they need in
    order to succeed. We represent thousands of families from across the state whose children have been involved in many systems including mental health, substance abuse, special education, juvenile justice, and foster care. Our board and staff
    are made up primarily of family members and youth who have been involved in these systems.

    The NYS Coalition for Children's Behavioral Health is committed to supporting community-based organizations that can help children and youth to remain safe and receive the care
    they need to lead healthier, happier lives. By providing a unified voice for children mental health care providers and the families they serve, the Coalition seeks to strengthen the array of children's mental health services, improve family and youth
    involvement in treatment, and lead public policy development and advocacy for funding of children's mental health services.

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